Feeds

Microsoft's ARM deal fuels hope of a chilled-out Xbox

Planning an A4, or perhaps a Cell?

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Microsoft has licensed ARM's architecture, but while an ARM might be found in every mobile phone it seems Redmond is more interested in putting some ARM goodness into the Xbox.

An architecture licence isn't necessary for most things – 200 licensees happily make ARM chips without bothering to licence the architecture itself, including Samsung's use of an ARM in the heart of Apple's A4 processor. But Qualcomm, Marvell and Infineon do like to muck about with the ARM micro-architecture in a way that requires this kind of licence, and now Microsoft has bought the right to play that game too.

Quite why Microsoft wants to be able to make changes at such a low level neither company is saying, but it's almost certainly nothing to do with mobile phones. Windows Phone 7 handsets are already going into production, and being made by a variety of manufacturers using different processors (all based on an ARM core), so it's hardly likely that Microsoft is suddenly going to push out its own chips.

Nintendo uses ARM chips in its mobile consoles, but it's hard to imagine Microsoft making a play in that space given how hard Xbox Live is being pushed as a feature of Windows Phone 7.

The Xbox line, however, is in serious need of a new architecture. Microsoft's approach to gaming consoles (and computers) has always been to have a whopping great chip in the middle doing most of the work. The Xbox 360 still suffers from the concentration of heat that this approach creates, depending on a heatsink that expands and contracts until it eventually touches one of the chip's contacts, shorting out the system.

Increasing the processing power for the next incarnation of the Xbox will need a different approach, which is the most likely reason for Redmond to want access to ARM's innermost secrets.

Neither company is saying how much the licence cost, or why Microsoft is so keen to get its hands dirty, but unless Steve Ballmer surprises us all by reviving the Kin we should expect to see a handful of ARM chips nestled in the next version of the Xbox. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Don't wait for that big iPad, order a NEXUS 9 instead, industry little bird says
Google said to debut next big slab, Android L ahead of Apple event
Xperia Z3: Crikey, Sony – ANOTHER flagship phondleslab?
The Fourth Amendment... and it IS better
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
A drone of one's own: Reg buyers' guide for UAV fanciers
Hardware: Check. Software: Huh? Licence: Licence...?
The Apple launch AS IT HAPPENED: Totally SERIOUS coverage, not for haters
Fandroids, Windows Phone fringe-oids – you wouldn't understand
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
Here's your chance to buy an ancient, working APPLE ONE
Warning: Likely to cost a lot even for a Mac
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.